Monday, May 14, 2012

Blood Transfusions! Hidden Post-Industrial Landscapes! Hitler's Jewish Clairavoyant! Life Mask and Anatomical Wax Votive Workshops! Drawing from the Bestiary! This Week and Beyond at Observatory.

An early blood transfusion from lamb to man, ca 1705. From "Tryals Proposed by Mr. Boyle to Dr. Lower, to be Made by Him, for the Improvement of Transfusing Blood out of One Live Animal into Another," Mr. Boyle

I am super excited about a number of great events and classes coming up at Observatory this week and beyond! Tonight we have a lecture on the history of blood transfusion with The London Consortium's force of nature Paul Craddock, while this Friday, Lord Whimsy will return to Observatory to regale us with film and tales relating to his recent "Hidden River Expedition." Newly announced classes--all part of The Morbid Anatomy Art Academy--include workshops with Sigrid Sarda (whom some of you might remember from this recent Midnight Archive episode) teaching students to create wax anatomical votives and life and death masks, and "Drawing from the Bestiary" with Morbid Anatomy favorite artist Saul Chernick; some exciting newly announced lectures include Mel Gordon of Grand Guiginol fame ith an illustrated lecture and screening of “lost footage” about Erik Jan Hanussen: Hitler’s Jewish Clairvoyant taking place Monday June 4th. We also have upcoming screenings of films on psychedelic mushroom tourism in Mexico and the unexpectedly dark history of Jell-O.

Full list of upcoming events follows; Hope to see you at one--if not more!--of these terrific events.
A Most Unexpected History of Blood Transfusion (1660 - 1820s)
Illustrated lecture with Paul Craddock,
The London Consortium
Date: TONIGHT Monday, May 14
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5

Presented by Morbid Anatomy
Those living in Britain (who owned a television set) about ten years ago might remember Sean Bean before he became a famous movie star. Apart from his appearance in Sharpe, he starred in a television advertisement for the National Blood Foundation, prompting people in his thick Yorkshire accent to 'do something amazing today'; 'save a life' by giving blood. The foundation's message is still the same, though Sean Bean has moved onto other projects such as Lord of the Rings. In any case, this illustrated lecture is about just that: the transfusion of blood and its many meanings. But it focuses on a much earlier (and stranger) period of transfusion history when saving a life was only one reason to transfuse blood - from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth.

The association between blood and life is a very easy one to make and seems to span all cultures and time periods, as does the very idea of swapping blood from one person to another. But what it means to swap one being's blood with another's - and why this might be attempted - has radically changed. It is only very recently, (around the turn of the twentieth century), that blood was transfused in order to purposefully replace lost blood. For the majority of this history, this was most certainly not the case. In the seventeenth century, transfusions of lamb's blood were made to calm mad patients and, in the nineteenth century, blood was transfused in order to restore a portion of an invisible living principle living inside of it. This lecture explores from where these ideas came and the ways in which bits of them might linger in our own ideas of transfusion.

On one last note: Paul Craddock commissioned a medical instrument maker to produce some early nineteenth century transfusion equipment. He hopes to demonstrate them at work if he can get them past customs!

Paul Craddock is currently writing on pre-20th century transplant surgery and transfusion at the London Consortium working under Prof. Steven Connor (University of London) and Prof. Holly Tucker (Vanderbilt University, Nashville). After a brief time studying music and performing arts, living in rural China, and working for the National Health Service, Paul made the switch to cultural and medical history. He has never had a transplant and never received a transfusion - his interest in these procedures come from thinking about generally how we relate to the material world by making bodily transactions. He has lectured around the UK and Europe, and last year he spoke at the Observatory Gallery on skin grafting. Currently based in London, Paul is the Director of London Consortium Television, the audio-visual arm of the London Consortium ( He is also the Guests' Secretary for the University of London's Extra Mural Literature Association. In another professional life, he produces films for medical establishments and museum exhibitions.

The Hidden River Expedition: A Re-Exploration of the Post-industrial Wilderness along Philadelphia’s Rivers: An Illustrated Lecture and Film Screening with Allen Crawford (aka Lord Whimsy)
Date: This Friday, May 18
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

In August of 2011, Allen Crawford (aka Lord Whimsy) left his house to embark on a three-day, forty-mile solo kayak trek from Mount Holly, NJ to Bartram's Garden, in West Philadelphia. This May 18th, Crawford will present a video using footage shot from his kayak during this trek. He will also give a slideshow presentation, highlighting the strange history along these rivers he traversed: fugitive slave enclaves, floating churches, Civil-War era submarines, and derelict aircraft carriers all await you. This expedition was a re-exploration of Philadelphia's landscape, and an investigation of how its built and grown environments have affected each other over time. This landscape is not pristine, but it is wild--and perhaps most important, it's new. The "local frontier" exists!

 Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy (a.k.a. Victor Allen Crawford III), After twenty long years, has at last achieved his dream: unemployability. He is an artist, designer, author, re-explorer, failed dandy, tin grandee, gentleman trespasser, bushwhacking aesthete, parenthetical naturalist, pseudo-intellectual, and a middle-aged dilettante. Having taken a solemn vow to do as little in life as possible, Whimsy was dismayed one morning to discover that he had accidentally wrote, designed, and illustrated The Affected Provincial’s Companion, Volume One (Bloomsbury 2006), which has been optioned for film by Johnny Depp’s production company, Infinitum Nihil. His face and his words have graced the hallowed pages of The New York Times, Interview, Frieze, Vice, Tin House, and Art in America. He and his wife are proprietors of the design and illustration studio Plankton Art Co. Their most notable project to date is the collection of 400 species identification illustrations that are on permanent display at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Ocean Life. A devoted enthusiast, lower-case adventurer, and explorer of what he calls “the local frontier,” Whimsy spends most of his time among the nooks and margins of the forgotten, the curious, and the speculative that is found beneath, around, and between the everyday. He smells like gusto.

And onward and upwards:
You can find out more about all events by clicking here.

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